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College Cup 2002 Archive

 

College Cup 2002
NCAA Division I Women's Soccer Championship Tournament

Portland Pilots win the 2002 College Cup

With Christine Sinclair leading the way, the Portland Pilots won their first women's soccer National Championship.  The Pilots once again were carried by the strength of their defense, disciplined play on the entire field and, of course, the outstanding play of Christine Sinclair.  In my opinion, and I realize it's probably a minority opinion, this is the best I've seen her play and the first time on a national broadcast in the United States that her play has matched her hype. In previous games I've seen an incredibly exciting player who makes you hold your breath whenever she's around the ball, yet a player who tends to be isolated up top and not generally in the flow of the offense.  If she gets the ball, the other team is in trouble, but the teams against whom I've seen her play tend to be fairly successful at limiting her touches. 

In the Championship game, however, Sinclair completely shattered any criticism I could possibly level at her - well with the exception that I truly believe she has no idea how much better than everyone else she actually is, and that she should run at the defense a bit more instead of pulling up and looking around to see where everyone is (she does need to play with her head up a bit more - as good as she is, she's going to get better folks - a lot better).  She needs to learn that when she has a relatively clear path to goal (one defender for her to shake is a clear path for her at this level - maybe at any level), it will be only the rarest of occasions when there is a better option than just running in on those defenders - she'll learn . . . then maybe she'll have 15 goals in the tournament instead of the record breaking 10 she had in this one . . . . Overall, though an outstanding game from Christine Sinclair and believe it or not, this is the first time I've seen her play that I've been able to say that without reservation or hesitation - I have a feeling it won't be the last though.  Well deserved tournament offensive MVP.

As for the rest of the game, well, a wet and slippery field spelled trouble for Santa Clara going in.  The crux of this team is in the midfield, namely Aly Wagner, and playing the ball on the ground through the midfield is a problem on a wet field.  As it was reported during the match, Clive Charles instructed his team to play more direct which eliminates that problem.  With Sinclair up top, that's a viable option because as we've seen with Team Canada, Sinclair is very strong in that style of game.  The adjustment for Santa Clara wasn't so easy though - they had to stick to what got them there and that was their midfield.  Between the weather and a great job denying Wagner the ball in the second half the Broncos' road got that much tougher.  A strong effort, though, especially in the first overtime period. 

This was a thoroughly entertaining match, worthy of the national stage and a fitting way for the seniors on both sides to finish their college careers.  While I was rooting for the Broncos going in, it is awfully hard not to be happy for Clive Charles and his crew - they really did deserve this one. 

Portland's Christine Sinclair finished the tournament as the leading goal scorer with an astonishing 10 goals.  There was a 5 way tie for the tournament assist lead as Portland's Emily Patterson, Santa Clara's Aly Wagner, UNC's Susan Bush, Stanford's Marcie Ward and Santa Clara's Megan Kakadelas finished the tournament with 4 assists each. 

For details please follow the tournament scoreboard and scoring leaders links below.     

NCAA Tournament Scoreboard

NCAA Tournament Scoring Leaders